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£1.2bn offshore wind farm progress

Published: 28 Jul 2011 09:230 comments

COMMUNITY councillors in Dunbar have been updated on the progress of a proposed £1.2 billion offshore wind farm in the outer Forth estuary.

Mainstream Renewable Power plans to start construction on the Neart na Gaoithe (Gaelic for 'strength of the wind') wind farm about 30 kilometres north of Torness by 2015.

having been granted exclusive rights for its development in February 2009.

The farm would produce a maximum of 450 megawatts, enough to power about 330,000 households, and would represent an investment of between £1.2 and £1.5bn.

David Sweenie, project manager for Neart na Gaoithe, and Ewan Walker - environmental developer - spoke at Dunbar Community Council's (DCC) meeting..

Mr Sweenie explained the wind farm connection would come ashore just south of Torness before joining the National Grid further inland at Crystal Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir hills.

It cannot connect at Torness Power Station as it would require "major infrastructure" changes and the station would have to be closed down for about a fortnight.

Commenting on the proposed development, DCC chair Stephen Bunyan said he was "greatly concerned" over the effect wind farms could have on birds, but added: "In general terms, I would be happier with them out there [in the sea] I think."

Mr Walker has been involved in preparing an environmental impact assessment on the wind farm for the last two years, which includes studying the impact on wildlife.

Mr Bunyan also enquired about the effect of the wind farm on shipping, which Mr Walker explained had been the first consideration when choosing a site for the development.

Community councillor Herbert Coutts said the turbines would be visible on the horizon from Dunbar, adding: "I'm interested in the economic benefits to this community.

"I'm assuming [the turbines] are going to be built somewhere else and shipped to the site, or is there going to be any building in this area?"

Mr Sweenie said they would "hopefully" be built in Scotland but admitted that the nearest construction site would most likely be in Leith.

There were also questions over the possible use of Dunbar Harbour by boats maintaining the wind turbines, though discussions were said to be "ongoing".

At the same meeting, DCC received a presentation from Stuart Turnbull, of Dunbar Harbour Trust, who updated members on the numerous projects being undertaken by the trust - including plans for the construction of a breakwater at the harbour's entrance which could cost between £15 million and £25 million.

A planning application for the breakwater could be lodged with East Lothian Council in the near future.

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